Science-fiction fans sometimes focus too much on the negative, in a world where remakes run rampant and Sarah Connor Chronicles dies so that Til Death might live. But here are six things I'm thankful for in science fiction right now.
This is just my own personal list of what I'm thankful for — feel free to add your own things you're thankful for in the comments.
1. That maybe, just maybe, movie audiences are developing some good taste.
I know, I know. Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen made about $833 million. And New Moon just had the third biggest opening weekend ever. Not exactly strong arguments for the intellect of the filmgoing public. But even so, both of them still came up short when compared to The Dark Knight, which set all manner of non-Titanic box office records. And for all the financial success of Transformers 2 and New Moon, I think there's a solid argument to be made that neither really compares to the cultural impact of The Dark Knight.
The Twilight franchise has its extremely devoted fanbase, but almost no crossover appeal. To be sure, tons of people saw Revenge of the Fallen, but how many people now remember doing so? The Dark Knight, on the other hand, launched a ton of memes, established the definitive version of the Joker for years to come, and won a ton of awards, assuming you care about that stuff. (I don't particularly, but evidence is evidence.)
And let's look at all the movies that aren't sequels. District 9 made $200 million on a $30 million budget thanks to a clever viral marketing campaign, strong word of mouth, and the fact that it was actually a good movie. All the standard industry reasons to assume a movie like District 9 wouldn't make money — it's too political, it's too violent, it's too South African — turned out to be completely wrong, and I'm just going to be a ridiculous optimist and assume that the quality of the movie was the reason for its success.
Finally, there's Star Trek. If anything, the fact that it was the eleventh movie in the franchise just meant it had more baggage to overcome, and yet it was the first bona fide hit of the summer, making $384 million. The fact that it did all that while gleefully reveling in the very same continuity that had sunk so many previous revival attempts, all because the movie was just so damn fun... well, yeah, I'm pretty thankful for that.
2. That Dollhouse somehow, against all odds, got a second season.
Sure, it's a shame that Dollhouse is coming to a close, but that show had no business making it past season one. Hell, it probably should have, by rights, been canceled about six episodes in. The show wasted its first five episodes on variations on the personality-of-the-week theme before launching into the master plot — admittedly because of network interference, but still — and then proceeded to unfold its convoluted, off-putting mythology that left the show without a clear central hero and a whole lot of really uneasy questions the audience had to answer. And it did all this while comfortably settling into #132 in the ratings, bringing in a paltry 3.73 million viewers per episode.
And then, thanks to favorable internet numbers, some decent critical buzz, and maybe some lingering Fox guilt about the fate of Firefly (nah), it got a second season, and Joss Whedon went full tilt at making it the craziest, most nerderiffic show ever. I mean, look at all the guest stars. Jamie Bamber! Michael Hogan! Alexis Denisof! Keith Carradine! Summer Glau! Ray Wise! More Alan Tudyk and Felicia Day! Not to mention the fact that the show is, if anything, even better, crazier, and more gleefully off-putting than last season. Dollhouse might be going out, but under the circumstances, you can't really say it isn't going out on its own terms.
3. That Doctor Who and Futurama are coming back, and everything will be (never) the same again.
It's a been a long year, with so little new Doctor Who to get excited/thrilled/confused/conflicted about. But now "The End of Time" is coming to close out David Tennant and Russell T. Davies's tenures with the show, and it clearly promises to be the most bonkers thing ever made. And then the Steven Moffat and Matt Smith era officially begins, and I really can't wait.
I got into Doctor Who in 2003, back when the show was still very much in the wilderness and the closest thing to new Who were a bunch of audios starring Paul McGann. (Sure, they were pretty good, but they were also pretty far from the real thing.) As such, I'm probably one of the very last people who can even somewhat legitimately call themselves "old school" fans of Doctor Who, and though I can't exactly claim a long memory of the time before the series returned, I remember just enough to be eternally thankful that the show is simply back at all.
Meanwhile, Futurama is finally completing its long road back. It's survived one cancellation, come back for four direct-to-DVD movies, at least two of which were pretty good, gotten picked up by Comedy Central, and muddled through one hell of a tense negotiation with the voice actors. A decade after it began, this show has even less business than Dollhouse still being on the air. Yet...here it is. With lots more crazy stories coming! And the original cast back! And maybe a decent budget to work with! Honestly, at this point, it's all gravy anyway.
4. That this happened.
Nothing like a little Nathan Fillion fan service to put a smile on my face. And hey, Castle isn't exactly bad! (It's not exactly good either, but that's besides the point.) I'd still gladly trade every show I've loved for the past seven years just for another season of Firefly, though. Yes, that includes you, Battlestar Galactica!
5. Starcraft II is coming.
So what if it's "just" a computer game? I'd happily argue Starcraft is at least one of the five best works of science fiction in the last twenty years. At least. And now it's got a sequel coming? I can barely contain my excitement, and it's still months away. I mean, just look at this:
You know, I'm going to really miss my productivity. But I'm thankful it'll be put to such an important use - helping the Terrans defeat the Zerg! (And then, once that is completed, helping the Zerg defeat the Terrans!)
6. That, no matter what Roland Emmerich does to them, I'll still have all my Foundation books.
You know, in a world of seemingly endless unnecessary adaptation and pointless remakes, this is probably a very useful thing to keep in mind.